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Southern Baptist leaders add praises, boost call for e-mails to honor Graham’s 90th

EDITOR’S NOTE: This updated story includes quotes from Southern Baptist Convention leaders.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Do you have a story about how Billy Graham’s ministry has impacted your life? If so, his friends and family members would like to hear it — and then deliver your story to the evangelist, who turns 90 on Nov. 7.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has set up a website — BillyGraham90.com — where people can send Graham stories, birthday greetings or simply a note of thanks to the man who likely has preached the Gospel to more people than anyone in history. (Messages to Graham also can be mailed to: Billy Graham’s 90th Birthday, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, NC 28201.) The deadline for submissions is Nov. 1. The website also has materials to help churches promote the opportunity.

“My father is a humble man who would never expect to be honored and recognized like this on his birthday,” Franklin Graham, the evangelist’s eldest son, said in a news release. “We urge all who made a commitment to Jesus Christ through my father’s ministry to share your story or simple greeting, as nothing could uplift him more on this special day.”

The news release added that “all who have been personally touched by an aspect of Billy Graham’s ministry are welcome and encouraged … to share a greeting or a personal story about his ministry they feel would encourage Mr. Graham at this milestone.”

All of the birthday messages to Graham will be compiled in books and presented to him during a tribute dinner with friends and family members.

Several Southern Baptist leaders said Graham’s 90th birthday provides believers a unique opportunity to pause and say thanks.

“Billy Graham is a prophet and anointed preacher of God’s Word,” said Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee. “He is a faithful steward of the Gospel, and God has rewarded him with the opportunity to share Christ with hundreds of millions around the world. I urge everyone to take a moment to send a message of affection and appreciation to him to celebrate his birthday, but also to honor his life of devoted service for our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray the Lord will bless him abundantly on this special occasion, a milestone in a journey traveled with humility and grace.”

SBC President Johnny Hunt, pastor of the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church in Woodstock, said Graham has impacted his life.

“No one individual has had a greater impact upon me to encourage me to reach this world for Christ like Dr. Billy Graham,” Hunt said. “I have supported, been encouraged, and challenged by Dr. Graham’s life and ministry since I was saved as a 20-year-old young man. His fingerprints are all over me. It has been one of the greatest joys in our lives for my wife and me to have been able to make financial contributions for many years to both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Samaritan’s Purse organization.”

Said Thom S. Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, “The profound impact of Dr. Graham’s ministry around the world is unprecedented in our lifetime. From a personal perspective, his love of the Lord and his heart for the lost have given focus to my Christian life and ministry. LifeWay gratefully joins others around the world in celebrating the 90th birthday of ‘America’s pastor.'”

The website already has posted some messages from those who have been impacted by Graham’s ministry.

“Back around 1957 you were in Richmond, Va., in a Crusade, I felt the Holy Spirit and went forward and rededicated my life,” one message reads. “I have never been the same. I started reading my Bible and over all these years have fallen more and more in love with the Lord. God Bless You.”

In 60-plus years of ministry, Graham has preached the Gospel in person to nearly 215 million people, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Compiled by Michael Foust, assistant editor of Baptist Press.

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